Out With the Old

Out With the Old

We asked three experts for their take on when it’s time to sunset technology and embrace the new infrastructure

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Abandoning the Traditional Model

Doug Robinson, Executive Director, National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO)

The time to do so is sooner rather than later. I think, most importantly, for state government and for state CIOs, which are my members, for many years, we have talked about the transition from the owner-operator model to the CIO-as-broker or the government-as-a-service model.

What I mean by that is that with traditional information technology, certainly in my many years in state government, we valued the owner-operator model, which meant we owned all of the hardware, we owned the infrastructure, we developed all the applications, we wrote our own code, and we had all our own data centers or a data center located in the capital. That was the predominant model for decades, and that has clearly shifted to the new operating model. We’re abandoning this era of buying and building things—that has become outdated—and we’re now into the service delivery mode, which really means that states are partnering and abandoning this traditional model.

And so the discussion around legacy technology is all about how and when can you transition to the cloud? The question of the when to retire systems has a lot of dimensions to it. But right now, the major dimension is that the business benefits the states require are no longer available in that traditional legacy environment. I think a big part of this discussion is around the debate on whether states, state governments, particularly, and CIOs should invest in information technology infrastructure at all, or if they should look for private sector partners to help deliver those technology services, so that the services are being brokered, instead of being acquired. That has a big impact on your decisions around when to retire because it may be accelerated due to this model. We have states today where they have 60% or more of their business applications in the cloud. More and more are retiring because of those major benefits of moving to cloud services.

Transforming How You Work

Alberto Gonzalez, Chief Information Officer/Administrator, Idaho Information Technology Services

When your business’s timelines and objectives aren’t being met, it’s time to let go of old systems and try a new approach. Title work in Idaho back in 2015 took 45 to 60 days to process—a number that sounds ridiculous today. It was because it was almost completely paper-driven. We worked to digitize that paper process, but not just digitize it after the fact, but actually build it into the workflow, eliminating several title touchpoints along the way. We improved the document management storage system, since these items need to be stored for a long time, improving the entire process along the way. Now Idaho titling is done is about three days or less, which is among the fastest results in the country.

I think it takes a little bit of courage to go in a new direction. A lot of times people are just comfortable remaining with the status quo and not fully embracing changes in technology. Even us—we’re still immature in the way we’ve embraced cloud services.

A good place to begin the process is to look at how you’re managing documents. Basically review your current workflow and ask: Where do I store the files that I need to retrieve? How do I work with those documents that I’m trying to store? And how can I build them into workflows? Often times, people think they just need to dump this stuff and have a digital version of it somewhere, rather than taking the time to improve the process, really leverage a digital repository and make it something significantly more robust that actually improves the employee and citizen experience. When you let go of that old document management system and move into something more modern, it can transform how you’re doing work.

Creating a Roadmap

Christine Quinn, Digital Transformation Executive, Salesforce

With the need to deliver on legislative mandates, many DMV agencies historically were forced to create one-off siloed solutions and workarounds over the years to address these requirements. Adding in heavy custom-built legacy applications that require high levels of skills and resource power to maintain and operate, manual, paper-based processes, integration backlogs and manual security management further complicate where DMV agencies find themselves today.

State agencies are finding it harder to deliver on certain things in an easy, scalable and cost-effective way, so it’s time to pause and rethink the approach. As a result, agencies are considering secure cloud-based, low-code, multi-tenant platforms that provide ease of use, scalability and configuration to drive quick wins and success proof points for their stakeholders. An added benefit is having their own business users responsible for some basic upkeep and maintenance that you can’t do with older legacy systems that require a programmer—further driving better return on investment.

Resource planning is another challenge for many agencies, having to do a lot more with a lot less. The big challenge that I have seen in these larger agencies, like a DMV, is an inability to have a single view of the agency and an understanding of how much work you’re actually handling and how long it takes to complete tasks. Some of that is because they’re running multiple disparate systems, and they just don’t have that single view.

Also, customer and employee demands and expectations are changing. The desire to self-serve or be directed and guided is something that’s really important; especially to younger customers, who have only ever known technology.

I am a firm believer in having a vision and creating a roadmap. Where do you want to go from where you are today? Having a strategy and defining what “good” looks like will be really helpful for your organization. From there, map out a three- to five-year plan from which you can start to execute and then make incremental changes until you get there. Don’t let perfection get in the way of your success, you can always pivot and shift your direction.

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